Nuclear energy is stored in the nucleus of an atom and holds the nucleus together. Substantial amounts of nuclear energy are released when splitting or fusing nuclei.
Atoms are made up of protons, neutrons and electrons. The nucleus contains protons and neutrons, and the electrons orbit this center. Splitting or fusing nuclei can release large amounts of nuclear energy.
Nuclear fission, the process of splitting the nucleus of an atom, is the system of energy release used in nuclear power plants. Breaking apart a uranium atom releases particles called fission products. These particles create a chain reaction that causes further atoms to split. The resulting heat generates steam, which drives turbines and stores electricity in generators. About 15 percent of the world's energy is supplied through nuclear fission.